FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
Friday, November 21, 2003
Contact: Simon Aronoff, Jenny Park, 415-901-0111
"Fair and Balanced?": Fox News Was PR Brains Behind GOP's "All Nighter" Protest Over Blocked Judicial Nominees
MoveOn.org Launches Online Fox Watch Group to Track Fox News's Partisan Bias
WASHINGTON, DC -- The wall between objective journalism and partisan politicking at Fox News fell last week when it became clear that Fox News staff contributed to the orchestration of the Republican-led 39-hour Senate talk-a-thon intended to counter the Democrat filibuster against four of President Bush's most radically conservative judicial nominees.
"While Howard Dean has claimed the mantle of the 'Democratic wing of the Democratic Party,' Fox News has clearly become the public relations wing of the Republican Party," said Eli Pariser, international campaigns director for MoveOn.org.
The idea for the food-and-cot political spectacle, also known as "Justice for Judges Marathon," had its origins on the editorial pages of the Rupert Murdoch-owned Weekly Standard. Also owned by Murdoch, Fox News took the idea a step further. Fox News anchors Brit Hume and Tony Snow pitched the idea outright to Senator Majority Leader Bill Frist on the October 26th broadcast of Fox News Sunday. Two weeks after Frist appeared on the show, the two-day marathon was announced.
To chart this alarming disintegration of journalistic standards, MoveOn.org Civic Action recently created an online "Fox Watch" group made up of thousands of Americans who have signed up to monitor Fox News daily and hold it accountable for specific instances of manipulations or distortions of truth and partisan bias.
In recent weeks, the evidence of partisan bias at Fox News and in other Murdoch-owned media outlets has been rolling in from watchdog sources. Here are some additional highlights:
- May 19: The Murdoch-owned Weekly Standard publishes an editorial calling for "marathon, stay-up-all-night sessions like those of yesteryear" in response to Senate Democrats' efforts to block Bush's four most radical judicial nominees.
- October 26: Fox News anchors Hume and Snow, in an interview with Senator Frist, challenge the Senator's repeated contention that an all-night protest session would be counterproductive. Snow prods, "Make people stay in all night. Make it the central political event in Washington. Why won't you do it?"
- November 12: According to a leaked email, a producer for Hume's evening news show, Special Report with Brit Hume, worked directly with a staffer for Senator Frist, in an effort to choreograph the launch of the Republican protest as a "live opening shot" for Hume's November 12 newscast. As reported in The Hill, the leaked memo read:
"It is important to double efforts to get your boss to S-230 on time ... Fox News Channel is really excited about this marathon and Brit Hume at 6 would love to open with all our 51 senators walking onto the floor -- the producer wants to know will we walk in exactly at 6:02 when the show starts so they get it live to open Brit Hume's show? Or if not, can we give them an exact time for the walk-in start?"
- 9/11 Commission News Blackout: Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Congress created a 10-person commission over intense White House objections. Thomas Kean, the former New Jersey Republican governor and chair of the commission has called it "the largest investigation of the United States government in U.S. history." Yet Murdoch-owned media including Fox News, New York Post and Weekly Standard have virtually blacked out all commission-related news. In the case of the Standard, there has not been one single mention of the commission in the nearly 50 issues that have come out since the commission was formed.
- November 17 Sun exclusive: President Bush granted a single one-on-one interview to the British press for his visit to England: the Murdoch-owned London tabloid The Sun. No surprise here. This is the same newspaper responsible for a recent story, "Bush Shows Tax Cuts Can Boost Economy."
The credibility of Fox's so-called commitment to 'fair and balanced' reporting has been completely shattered," said Eli Pariser, international campaigns director for MoveOn.org. "Brit Hume and others on his staff need to ask themselves if their job is to cover the news or make the news by orchestrating PR coups for Bush Republicans."
Documentation available at:
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